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Karen Spratt, Artist at Riverfront Art Gallery, Petaluma


Karen Spratt, Artist at Riverfront Art Gallery, Petaluma

A Special Vision Regarding Bicycles And Birds

Thomas Hoving, once director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, wrote a small book saying that art collectors are artists in their own right and that their artistry is revealed in the way they assemble their collection and how they display it. Perhaps it could also be said that how artists compile shows, how they choose a theme, what pieces they include or exclude creates a temporary collection that also reveals another piece of their artistic nature. In this sense, regionally-recognized painter Karen Spratt surely would have caught Hoving’s eye.

In a featured show currently at Riverfront Art Gallery in Petaluma, Karen has selected the theme Bicycles And Birds, in an unusual juxtaposition of two quite disparate subjects. Karen comments, “I don’t quite know why I started painting birds or bicycles...I just did. Over time, both birds and bicycles have found their way into my work, but this is the first time I have deliberately made them both a show subject. I realize it is an unusual pairing, but sometimes one doesn’t fight an idea that presents itself, so I just took it and ran with it, working on this project for over six months, with new works, the reworking of prior works, and a few pieces I did previously.” Clearly it is a show that evolved over time, but ultimately came to have its unique focus.

A few images came out of an experiment Karen assigned herself to make herself paint faster. She explains, “I gave myself a time limit of three hours. It was a good exercise for me. The birds are a good subject for this kind of exercise, because birds have a lot of little details, but to render them well only requires a few of those details, so the trick is to filter the details. Crows are a favorite bird, because they are so smart, but, of course, other birds insisted on showing up in the paintings also.”

As to bicycles, Karen points out that, “It’s a challenge to get the elliptical shape of the wheels correct, considering perspective and point of view. If you don’t get that right, the painting doesn’t work. It’s getting the wheels right that takes time, but once you have the ellipses, it only takes a few lines to make a bicycle.” Some bicycles were also part of Karen’s time experiment, but she says, “I admit to working on some paintings much longer than the time limit.”

Karen’s creative collection runs from January 6 through March 6 at Riverfront Art Gallery, 132 Petaluma Blvd. North in downtown Petaluma. The opening reception is Saturday, January 9, 5:00- 9:00. The gallery is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Karen Spratt - Crowbar